In preparation for winter, Oakland’s Public Works Agency is urging citizens to prepare their property for the rainy season.

The agency has been busy removing debris from storm drains, and it wants home and business owners to check and clean private drainage systems and clean up leaves, yard debris and lawn clippings.

Beginning this week, residents can pick up a maximum of 20 sandbags and 25 feet of plastic sheeting per household or business to prepare for flooding.

The materials are available from the city’s municipal service center at 7101 Edgewater Dr. and the drainage maintenance satellite office at 5921 Shepherd Canyon Rd. Proof of Oakland residency is required.

Oakland fire stations will also distribute up to five sandbags to Oakland residents for pick up at the station.

Report flooding problems at 615-5566.


OAKLAND – Controversy surrounding the library at Castlemont Community of Small Schools flared Sept. 26 at an Oakland Unified School District Board of Education meeting, when directors Alice Spearman and Gregory Hodges asked why the Castlemont did not have a fully functioning library.

“There are some things a school has to have. They have to have libraries,” said Spearman.

While there is a library room at Castlemont, it is less than half the size it was in 2004 when the underperforming school was split into three smaller schools that share one campus. That’s when principals at the three schools reprioritized their budgets with an eye towards improving attendance and student performance, and school librarian, Lillian Webb was laid off.

Judge Claudia Morcom

Judge Claudia Morcom Visits Oakland to Raise Money for an Old Friend

OAKLAND – Ann Fagan Ginger has always counted on her good friend, retired Michigan Judge Claudia Morcom, for help with the Oakland-based Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute, which Ginger founded to promote peace and civil rights around the world.

She called Morcom to go to New York to talk to the United Nations Human Rights Committee about U.S. human rights abuses. She called her to testify before human rights organizations in Argentina, France, Grenada, Mexico, Nicaragua and Switzerland. Each time, Morcom said yes and paid her own way.


Oakland Police Communications Faces Record Staffing Shortage

OAKLAND – If you dial 911 in Oakland, you are more likely than ever to get a recorded voice that calmly repeats the message: “This is Oakland 911. Do not hang up.”

That’s because there are not enough operators working the phones to handle the high volume of emergency calls, says Oakland Police Communications Supervisor Regina Harris-Gilyard.

Although it is one of the busiest emergency centers in the state, handling 813,039 calls last year, Communications is currently running with only 57 of 72 dispatcher positions filled.

The division has had a staffing shortage for years, but this is the worst that Harris-Gilyard has ever seen: “We’ve never had 15 vacancies in the 23 years I’ve worked here.”


Gary Shields, Owner of God’s Gym

OAKLAND – There aren’t too many independently owned gyms anymore, and fewer still with rules such as no dating, no flirting, and no cursing. Then again, there’s only one God’s Gym. It’s located at 25th Street and Broadway in Oakland.

God’s Gym owner, Gary O. Shields Sr. was just 19 in 1981 when he began bodybuilding at the old YMCA in Berkeley. He loved the aggressiveness of the sport and the camaraderie he found at the gym.

By the time he was 23, he had saved enough to open his own 900 square foot gym in West Oakland. He called it The Iron Pit, a street term for a prison yard weight lifting area. Many who trained at The Iron Pit came to the gym after being released from prison. Shields turned them into champions. He personally won five amateur titles, and over the years, he coached his teammates to 32 more.


When: Saturday, September 15th from 2-7pm.

Where: DeFremery Park.

What: Free BBQ, skate ramps, dance area, DJs, peace pole dedication, and memorial peace pledge and drive.